Categories: Technical

by chris


Lot of us must have a similar problem with 55 year old gelcoat simply not polishing up and precious little left to compound.

Whilst trying to avoid painting for as long as possible, I’ve tried out a multitude of premium cleaners and waxes from hybrid ceramic to traditional premium carnuba wax and ultimately 2 coats of Star brite Premium Marine Polish with PTEF.

Although the ceramic waxes and washes promised the earth, the gloss was poor without excessive compounding before and didn’t seem to last anywhere near the months promised.

Meguiars Pure Wax looked very nice after the job, but started to dull noticably after a fortnight.

My hopes are now pinned on 2 coats of Starbrite to get me through the winter and pictured here. I may have given it a head start with all the other products I’ve used but fingers crossed I’ve found something that will at least stall the need for more compounding.

Below I’ve listed the various products I’ve tried and my experiences with them but not included the bog standard car washes.

Turtlewax Hybrid Ceramic Wash & Wax

I tried this on 4 washes, following the instructions to the letter. It’s actually quite a performance washing a small area of the boat, drying it down and then moving on to the next area without creating overspray. Balancing on an F22 wiping down they off-side without falling overboard is a bit of a challenge for what should be a quick wash with enhanced protection. The end results didn’t warrant the effort in my opinion with no discernible difference in gloss or duration of protection over a cheap Tesco’s Wash & Wax

Meguiars Hybrid Ceramic Wax

I had higher hopes for this one, the idea being you spray it on (having primed it for the initial coating) and then pressure wash it off. Rigging up a pressure washer to the boat was a bit of a performance but if it worked, I’d have been happy. This was an expensive product and on a car, the product works. On a boat, not so much. I didn’t notice much gloss enhancement and the protection appeared to last marginally longer than standard Wash & Wax on GRP. Not hugely impressed but am using the rest on my car.

Meguiars Liquid Hybrid Ceramic Wax (Traditional application method)

Having tried the post-rinsing Meguairs Hybrid spray wax, I thought I’d give a more traditional application/product combination a go, sticking with the hope that Ceramic would out-perform a traditional wax. Frankly, it didn’t. As the product is applied so thinly, there didn’t appear to be a significant build and certainly not enough to achieve a useful gloss on a weathered gelcoat. As with all these products, they do demand a perfectly polished substrate to achieve what they advertise but we also live in a real world where compounding the last of a 55 year gelcoat is simply not acceptable. So this was expensive, didn’t produce a high gloss for me and certainly didn’t last more than a couple of weeks.

Meguiars Pure Wax

This is a product I’ve used for years as the final part of a 3 stage process of cutting, polishing and then waxing. As you can see from my previous product selections, I have rated Meguiars products in the past albeit the ‘marine’ versions. This wax did actually deliver a nice glossy surface given it’s imperfections and was relatively easy to apply. Just a tip for would-be detailers, the buffing pads are for application rather than product removal as those fluffy boots get clogged up in no time rendering them useless. Kitchen towl or mutton cloth is as good as anything, making sure you keep switching to a dry bit of cloth frequently so you don’t get the product dragging on the surface rather than lifting. The pure wax looked nice, but sadly not for long. Within 2 weeks, the product started to lose it’s lustre and in my opinion you would need to apply the product at least monthly for real benefit.

Starbrite Marine Polish with PTEF

My hopes are certainly pinned on this one, having given over a weekend to two coats of this product applied with a professional buffer. Online reviews and feedback from chandlers suggest that this is one of, or possibly THE highest regarded marine polish/wax on the market. Of course with a reputation like that it comes at a hefty price. The application is certainly made easier by machine application, but I still needed to get into the nooks and crannies with a microfibre cloth. This product seems to benefit from going on fairly thickly when it comes to buffing off as you can then see the haze that you are polishing into. It’s a good idea to leave a little while between application and buffing off. I must have left it for 30 minutes or so. This product is supposed to be a sealer as well as a wax, so hopefully the durability will meet my expectations. I hope it will last 2 months or more between applications. Certainly Starbrite has given me the most glossy finish of all the products I’ve tried and has initially given me the most consistent gloss on a less than ideal substrate. Here’s hoping for durability. I’ll keep you posted.

These pictures show the result of two coats of Starbrite Premium Marine Polish with PTEF applied with an electric buffer (details and corners applied by hand) over two days on a previously chalking and dull gelcoat. Only time will tell if the durability is good, but I’m certainly happy with the gloss.